Despite two new policy papers in the last few days, the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS) is just tinkering around the edges and not sorting out a system that was designed years ago, said Caroline Le Jeune, the new head of tax at leading tax and accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg.
Caroline Le Jeune, a partner who has headed Blick Rothenberg’s private client team, said: ‘The OTS has recently published two policy papers – one on using third party data (i.e., HMRC taking information directly from banks and other financial institutions) and one on the call for evidence for HM Treasury’s review of the effectiveness of the OTS itself. We need a wholesale review of how we levy tax in the UK. The pandemic has catapulted technology and systems forwards by at least five years.’
‘However, tax is still being collected (for individuals) up to nine months after the end of the tax year in which cash is received. Making Tax Digital (MTD) was meant to address this, but it is still a work in progress many years after it was announced. Everything is digital, from ordering a takeaway, downloading in-house entertainment, online dating to streaming music on the move. However, when it comes to tax administration, too much is done on paper and with the security risk of losing personal data.’
Caroline added: ‘The OTS does excellent work to resolve legislative anomalies and bring unification to the tax system. However, they are just applying a sticking plaster to elements of an outdated tax system to keep it going rather than undertaking a root and branch review. Any review of the OTS should recommend them stepping back from the detail instead of reviewing the whole tax system and how HM Revenue & Customs go about collecting tax efficiently and making it easier for their customers.’
In her new role as Blick Rothenberg’s head of tax, Caroline said: ‘I’m very excited to be taking on this new challenge at Blick Rothenberg. The head of tax offers a unique challenge, allowing me to continue to make a positive change for our people, gain greater insight into the needs of our clients, and take a clear, consistent message to the marketplace on behalf of the whole of tax. While continuing my role as head of the private client, I’m looking forward to taking our wider tax business to the next level.’
Nimesh Shah, CEO of the firm, said: ‘I am delighted to announce Caroline’s appointment as our head of tax. Caroline comes with a wealth of experience, and she offers a new dimension to Blick Rothenberg’s tax practice. The whole subject around tax and how to support our clients navigate the complexities is very different from when Caroline and I started our careers. Caroline’s vision and how she believes we should advise our clients over the long-term aligns with Blick Rothenberg’s values to support and develop our people to be tax advisors of the future.’